He Dreams of Falling

Ruth Ellen Kocher

At the table in patio seating,
a young man starched into my evening
in waiter black and white--
he's probably named John, Tom,
something less spectacular than the busboy
named Ari at the table beside me.
He is a boy I've seen and I hide that from him,
a silence he doesn't understand as he turns away
not remembering that a week ago while waiting for a bus
I saw him step over the legs of an old
homeless woman
sprawled on the sidewalk. His foot
not clearing her arm, caught,
so that he jerked her body
while a consciousness
almost found her but didn't,
just stirred somewhere below her face.
In the spiral where he turned he glanced
not at the woman but to see who'd seen.
He saw me watching him, jack-lighted and drawn
into the warm ceremony that fell through him.
I understood this explosion,
the burn from the beginning,
there when a bus passes, or a waiter
quietly puts down your check.
He could be my brother,
have parents at home in Ohio where there is a small lie
buried in a garden with snow peas and basil.
There may be another breaking the soil,
dogs who bark into the woods,
constellations who see our freeways as spines--
or he may miss a warm climate,
groves of oranges measuring the circular
scent of weight each time a heavy fruit falls.
He may know that secretly
the hearts of children conspire to stop
when parents close their bedroom doors.
But in this construction,
the pace that takes him back and forth
in the servitude of strangers,
he has forgotten, again, to feel for me,
eating alone, a woman familiar
deep in the eyes,
with his same knowledge of movement
that bends us forward,
the instinct of our heels
ready to turn against that jerk a body makes
even in dead sleep,
the stir that is less than we ask for,
less than an old woman,
or a woman growing old.
From When the Moon Knows You're Wandering by Ruth Ellen Kocher. Copyright © 2002 by Ruth Ellen Kocher. Reprinted by permission of New Issues Press. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Forms of Range and Loathing by Ruth Ellen Kocher
typical of an arid country among hundreds of other flora

Further Reading

Poems about City Life
And the City Stood in its Brightness
by Czeslaw Milosz
Atlantic City Sunday Morning
by Gregory Pardlo
Block City
by Robert Louis Stevenson
California Plush
by Frank Bidart
From a Bridge Car
by Elias Lieberman
In a Station of the Metro
by Ezra Pound
In Paris
by Carl Dennis
In the City of Night
by John Gould Fletcher
Joseph Brodsky in Venice (1981)
by Campbell McGrath
Move to the City
by Nathaniel Bellows
by James Allen Hall
Tale of Two Cities
by Mark Jarman
The Barcelona Inside Me
by Robin Becker
The Chicago Poem
by Jerome Rothenberg
The City Limits
by A. R. Ammons
The City's Love
by Claude McKay
This City
by Liam Rector
With My Back to City Hall, On Yom Kippur
by Jordan Davis
Monna Innominata [I dream of you, to wake]
by Christina Rossetti
The Book of a Thousand Eyes [A dream, still clinging like light to the dark, rounding]
by Lyn Hejinian
A Bedtime Story For Mr. Lamb
by Arthur Nevis
A Book Said Dream and I Do
by Barbara Ras
A Dream Within a Dream
by Edgar Allan Poe
by William Olsen
by Douglas Goetsch
Cradle Song
by William Blake
by George Gordon Byron
Dear Tiara
by Sean Thomas Dougherty
Dream In Which I Meet Myself
by Lynn Emanuel
Dream of the Evil Servant
by Reetika Vazirani
Dream Song 1
by John Berryman
Dream Variations
by Langston Hughes
Dreaming About My Father
by Ed Ochester
by Sarah Arvio
by Ron Padgett
His Heart
by Caroline Knox
I am Like a Desert Owl, an Owl Among the Ruins
by Noelle Kocot
I Might Have Dreamed This
by Kirsten Dierking
it was a dream
by Lucille Clifton
Japanese Lullaby
by Eugene Field
by Ana Božičević
Kristin's Dream In November
by Bernadette Mayer
by Maxine Scates
Lullaby of an Infant Chief
by Sir Walter Scott
Making the Bed
by Burt Kimmelman
My Bright Aluminum Tumblers
by Michael Ryan
by Wayne Miller
O Little Root of a Dream
by Paul Celan
Our eunuch dreams
by Dylan Thomas
Prologue of the Earthly Paradise
by William Morris
Raven's Last Dream
by Red Hawk
Scarecrow on Fire
by Dean Young
Separation is the necessary condition for light.
by Brian Teare
The Dream of the Just
by Dana Gelinas
The Dreamer
by Djuna Barnes
The Good-Morrow
by John Donne
The House
by Richard Wilbur
The Land of Nod
by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Republic of Dreams
by Michael Palmer
The Sandman
by Margaret Thomson Janvier
The Sleepers
by Walt Whitman
The Song in the Dream
by Saskia Hamilton
The Tower
by W. B. Yeats
Variation on the Word Sleep
by Margaret Atwood
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
by Eugene Field